It’s not all heavenly peace for three TV programs that have come under fire for their on-screen content during this holiday season. Why is GLAAD mad about ABC’s new cross-dressing comedy? Where stands Lowe’s beef with TLC’s All-American Muslim? And who’s calling a penalty on Saturday Night Live‘s send-up of NFL star Tim Tebow? Here’s a status report on those controversies.
The LGBT Community vs. ABC’s Work It
WHAT’S THE ISSUE? | GLAAD says that the soon-to-premiere comedy — in which Ben Koldyke (How I Met Your Mother) and Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break) play out-of-work (and straight) bosom buddies who pose as women to get jobs — “could contribute to the high levels of job discrimination that transgender Americans face and will give license for people to mock and ridicule those whose gender expression might not fit with what society considers the norm.” Both GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) have urged ABC to pull a particularly damaging print ad showing the male leads, in drag, standing at urinals, as well as “seriously consider whether airing this show is worth the damage it has the potential to do.”
WHAT WAS THE RESPONSE? | ABC has not yet publicly responded to GLAAD’s complaint, though network president Paul Lee proactively defended the comedy at last summer’s Television Critics Association press tour, quipping, “I’m a Brit, I have to do a cross-dressing show every year. I grew up with Monty Python — what can I do?” And while ABC has featured transgender individuals on shows such as Dirty Sexy Money, Ugly Betty and Dancing With the Stars, GLAAD says that admirable track record in fact “perhaps makes the sting worse.”
WHAT’S THE LATEST? | GLAAD and HRC on Wednesday placed a full-page ad in Daily Variety as part of a campaign to educate the industry and the public about their concerns. The ad copy cites damning discrimination data (including the fact that transgender individuals can be legally fired in 34 states “simply for being who they are”) and says that “by encouraging the audience to laugh at the characters’ attempts at womanhood, [Work it] gives license to similar treatment of transgender women.” The organizations say a meeting with ABC executives will take place to discuss the sitcom.
Lowe’s vs. TLC’s All-American Muslim
WHAT’S THE ISSUE? | Weeks after the docudrama about Muslim families living in Michigan debuted — and on the heels of the conservative Florida Family Association calling for a boycott of a show it billed as “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values” — the home improvement goods retailer pulled their ads, explaining, “Lowe’s has received a significant amount of communication on this program, from every perspective possible. Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views.” The travel planning site Kayak.com likewise canceled its ads.
WHAT WAS THE RESPONSE? | Religious and advocacy groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations derided Lowe’s actions, and petitions against the company proliferated.
WHAT’S THE LATEST? | Lowe’s has declined to reinstate its ads, with its VP reiterating this week, “We have no problem with the content of the show. It was what people were saying about the show…. If we’ve done anything with an advertising decision to make people question our commitment to diversity, we apologize again.”
Pat Robertson vs. NBC’s Saturday Night Live
WHAT’S THE ISSUE? | Though the veteran sketch comedy’s take on Tim Tebow — in which the Denver Broncos’ outspoken Christian QB was beseeched to “take it down a notch” by Jesus himself — was cited by many critics as a highlight of last weekend’s telecast, televangelist Robertson said on the Christian Broadcast Network (watch video here) that it was an example of “the anti-Christian bigotry in this country that’s just disgusting.” Robertson argued that Tebow’s public expressions of faith “ought to be applauded,” and not mocked, at a time with the country is “losing [its] moral compass.”
WHAT WAS THE RESPONSE? | Tebow has not tweeted about the SNL spoof, nor has NBC commented on Robertson’s statements. Bob Beckel of Fox News’ The Five, though, echoed Robertson’s rant, calling the skit “despicable” and saying there’s “nothing funny” about drawing attention to Tebow’s faith.
WHAT’S THE LATEST? | Though it’s just a rumor, HollywoodLife.com reported this week that Tebow himself might host SNL once the NFL season has winded down. If that proves true, God bless him for being a good sport.